Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Communicating versus just speaking

Two weeks ago in her Ah, Um, Er blog Sara Marks posted about Speaking but not Communicating. She noted that when she joined Toastmasters she already was a good speaker, but a poor communicator. Sara asked why we, as Toastmasters, can’t do better at communicating this part of the mission of the organization.

I was heartened to see that yesterday’s Ogden (Utah) Standard-Examiner contained an article titled Raising a Toast to Toastmasters, and subtitled Organization Teaches Communication and Public-Speaking Skills.

The distinction between speaking (talking at) and communicating (talking with) is not new. I recently found an article on The Art of Lecturing which was published sixty years ago in the British Medical Journal. Professor G. Patrick Meredith concludes it as follows:

“In short, the art of lecturing, like any other art, must be learnt through the painful experience of practice and criticism. It will then become evident, through this empirical process, that lecturing is a living art, an art of moving the thoughts and feelings of human beings, an art in which, while the talk and the topic are in the foreground, there is a background of interaction between personalities, of historical achievement, and, in Medicine, of movement towards a proud participation in the most humane of labours.”

He devotes an entire paragraph to vitality: “….intense, creative man-to man contact – a contact of both learning and personality.”

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